Saturday, May 30, 2015

Super 8 Movie Review (Re-watch): A Modern day kid adventure movie (kind of)


I watched Super 8 two nights ago with my son and his friend who was staying over. I wanted to introduce both of them to a movie they had never seen. This proved more difficult than I initially thought. My son’s friend is quite the movie buff. I was slightly surprised when he said he had not seen Super 8, so we cranked the surround sound, and settled in.
I initially saw Super 8 in the theater, and loved it.  I loved it enough to buy it the day it came out on Blu-ray. I, however, never watched it all the way through again until last night. I know I have streamed the digital copy a couple of times, and I have also stopped and watched it when it was on TV for a few minutes, but never all the way through. Honestly I am not sure why, other than I own way too many movies, and it just is not one I think about re-watching on a regular basis.  Watching it completely for a second time proved it still holds up, and it is a worthy addition to anyone’s movie collection.
The main premise of the movie is a bunch of kids, who are making their own movie, get involved in an Air Force alien cover up after they witness the alien escape, due to a train crash. What makes the movie great is the kid actors, and how JJ Abrams directed them in the movie. They acted like middle school kids act. They cussed and ripped on each other. They got jealous over crushes. In short, the interaction rang true to real life.  A great example is how the kids interact around parents. The main character, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), says yes sir and no mam addressing his friends parents, but isn’t afraid to let the cuss words fly around his friends. It is completely appropriate, and I loved the authentic feel it gave the movie.
This movie really recaptured the magic of the kid adventure movies from the 80s. From Goonies, The Explorers, or Stand by Me, this movie rekindles the spirt of those types of movies from those days (ugh I used “those days”). While I would not let younger kids watch the movie for its language, older middle school kids could watch. Be honest, they are using the language, the same as the kids in the movie, just behind your back (like any respectable pre-teen should).  
The movie is fast paced, with just the right amount of sentimental value to make you care for our lead characters. Elle Fanning is great as the main female lead. She really could carry the movie on her own. Great casting choice, I know she has been in a few more things since Super 8. I have not seen many, but I cannot imagine her not doing well for years to come. The action is spot on and believable. The train crash scene is amazing, and really played well on my surround sound last night. My wife complained when she got home that she could hear the movie outside. My response was: So?  Leading up to the train scene the kids are prepping for a scene in their own movie. This is where I noticed JJ Abrams love of lens flares. To be honest I started looking for them here, and noticed them. After this scene I did not look for them again, I know there are probably dozens, but they did not pull me out of the movie.
I did not care for the CG of the alien in the movie. You don’t see the alien a ton in the movie, only close to end. I am ok with this aspect. It added a bit of mystery and horror to the movie which I enjoyed. The CG when we did see him is not up to par, and it does not hold up well today. Maybe it is just dated from 2011, but that isn’t long ago. Maybe there where budget restraints, and they could not use much CG. I don’t think this is the case.  They were able to turn a town into a late 1970s, early 80s version of itself, that doesn’t seem cheap to me. The CG is not a deal breaker, could have been better, but it does not take away from the rest of the movie.
While I liked the movie being set in the late 70s or early 80s, I think I may have preferred a modern day setting looking back now.  My first watch I loved the setting, but watching it with the boys they asked me a few question about how things are portrayed in the movie. For example: Did everyone have CBs in their cars (Yes those where pre-historic cellphones)? And, why did the lady bring up the Russians during the town meeting (Please watch the original Red Dawn for information on this topic)? I know the movie was not intended for kids, it was geared towards kids who grew up in the 80s. Looking back, this could have been this generations Goonies, or ET. It has that fun vibe, and set in a modern setting it could have captured a wider audience, and been more relatable to today’s generation. The boys both really liked the movie, but I don’t know if they would ask to watch it again.   
In the end Super 8 is a fun movie which I am glad I own, and hopefully will re-watch it more times over the next few years. Anyone have any favorite adventure movies from the 80s? What are they?  I snuck two of my favorites in the review, Goonies and The Explorers.
My Rating: Must Buy
·                   Must Buy
·                   Must see in Theaters/Will stop and watch every time on TV
·                   Rentable
·                   Wait for HBO release
·                   Has a good scene or two. 
·                   Don't Bother

·                   Craptaculur (Guilty pleasure)

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